Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up. On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual.
Thanksgiving is a bit like a wedding for many cooks. Something old, something new, something borrowed… Wait, is there something blue at Thanksgiving? Oh well. Lots of folks have to have their favorites. The thing it’s not Thanksgiving without, right? What is your “must have”? I hope it’s on your or someone else’s cooking list.
In the fall, I find myself with a big stack of magazines...all about Thanksgiving and Christmas. (I’m keener on the Thanksgiving batch.) You may harbor the exact same addiction. Each issue sports a great big turkey or chocolate cake with white curls and candy canes on the front. I keep them from year to year so I can go through them just for fun. In fact, I buy magazines in November and December that I never buy the rest of the year. This may be changing a bit as lots of publications that appear to be magazines are actually small cookbooks for ten or twelve bucks lately. Wow. Continue reading
If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know I have a stack of much-loved French cookbooks that are surely the stuff of which dreams are made…well, at least my dreams. I’m not as much of an armchair cookbook reader as some, though there is always a stack next to my reading chair–even at Christmas. Maybe especially at Christmas. (List of said books upcoming on a blog page. I promise.)
I spent a good deal of my life working for cash and life fulfillment as 1. a librarian and 2. a church music director. (I taught piano, too, on the side.) Both jobs, and I sometimes held them at the same time to make ends meet, helped fuel my love of cooking because libraries have cookbooks and church choirs love to eat.
It’s an odd thought, but Thanksgiving is overwhelmingly vegetarian. I mean, think about it. Except for the turkey, everything is basically and definitely vegetarian (or appears that way); even the gravy and the stuffing could be if you so wanted. Mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, buttery rolls, pumpkin pie; it’s all on that side of the equation. Skip the turkey or duck-duck-goose stuff, as well chicken broth in the various sides, and there’d you’d be at a nearly totally vegetarian meal.
above: Our son Sean with his smoked turkey a couple of years ago. No gravy joy here, but lots of luscious, scrumptious eating. Buy gravy or make it ahead using roasted wings, etc.
Talking Turkey: When you buy your turkey, look at the ingredients list on the wrapper. If it says anything other than just TURKEY, you may want to check out another brand.
As Maria (a la “Sound of Music”) would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” And we all know we can trust her, right? My theory is that if you start early with a few basics, you can enjoy Thanksgiving from now until the leftovers are long in your tummy or stored safely in the freezer for busy December nights.
Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of the year and I want it to be yours, too. I like it to last for days and it should when you consider how long it takes to prepare and make.
When one thinks of French food, probably things like wine, cheese, croissants, baguettes, fruit tarts, foie gras, French fries, Coq au Vin, or fill in the blank come to mind. I’m here to tell you that those things are assuredly there and in spades; you’d be right.
You may not share my approach to living. I’m most happy and feel terribly rich when there’s a big pot of something luscious bubbling on the stove–especially on a snowy day.
Enough to feed 12 is about right. And maybe there’s a bottle of wine airing on the table with glasses perched just within reach. A fresh baguette wafting its bouquet throughout the kitchen. Salted butter, of course. Paris Café music on the Bose, as we’re just back from France: